2016 Arlington Heights defensive lineman Patrick Jones saw his game take off his senior year and that has him ready to potentially contribute early when he arrives on SMU's campus this summer.
"One of the things we work on as a lineman is having your first three steps be your most dominant steps so I know I'm already quick off the ball, but improving to be a little quicker, being able to stay on the field longer, better lateral movement and I'm more athletic than I was before," Jones said.
The SMU commit's high-motor and him playing "pissed off" is what the 6-1, 280-pound lineman has always valued the most - something he's been coached to do from the start.
"High-motor is my best attribute. I remember when I first started playing defense when I was real little, my defenisve coordinator always said, "play with your piss high" so that's my motto is to play pissed off so that's my best attribute. High-motor, getting off the ball quickly and being dominant."
After his senior season, Jones looks poised to earn some early playing time, but he's all about doing what will help the Mustangs the most.
"I already have my brother that goes to TCU now and he's always told me if you redshirt, it's not a bad thing and if you play, that's a good thing," Jones said. "Wherever I can help the team the most, that's fine with me. If they say I can come in and give them 10-12 snaps a game and that's what they want, that's what I'm going to give them. If they say I'm going to come in and be better after redshirting, then that's fine with me."
The future three-technique brings an incredible amount of explosiveness, size and athleticism to a defensive line group that has plenty of opportunities to for early playing time.
"My sophomore year I played defensive end so I know how to rush the edge and my senior year, I played nose guard so I was in there with the centers and guards. I think playing three-technique is where your most athletic linemen go. I think that's where they really want me to play at," Jones said. "I can rush around the guard, but then I can get explosive and bull rush."
SMU assistant Keith Gunn has been the lead on Jones' recruitment and the two have built a solid relationship.
"Me and coach Gunn's relationship has always been good from day one so that's always something that's good to have before you get on campus," Jones said. "I like all the other coaches, coach Morris - he's a little energetic for me, but I like him."
Gunn and defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt stopped by recently to visit with Jones and his family to talk about the program, where he'll be playing among other things.
Jones took a visit to Purdue recently, which he addressed with Gunn and defensive coordinator Van Malone when the pair visited him the Monday after his visit. Jones cleared the air, realized he made a mistake, and that it wouldn't be happening again. He's solid in his commitment to SMU.
"They explained to me what the expectation was from them. I did not know about checking in with them. For me, not ever doing this process before, I never knew that. My brother (TCU OL Ty Barrett) was a blue-chip and took all of his visits, but like coach Malone said, my brother wasn't committed when he went on those visits. That's kind of how it was. It was just a little issue of communication and we got it all straightened out. I just wanted to take the trip and have fun."
With signing day coming up, he's excited about getting to know his new teammates in person and on their official visit together in January.
"StangGang16 - we haven't had the time that we've all been together yet, but we've been in this group message for almost a year now, we're tight," Jones said.
Jones earned first-team All-District for the second consecutive season after his 31 tackles, nine tackles for loss and three sacks this season.